As we close out 2012, the business world is getting increasingly tired of hearing about social, mobile and cloud. Sure, there are many ways for organizations to leverage each of these powerful technologies to their benefit. But there’s more to innovation than just these buzz words. The world is ready for the next big innovation to drive businesses to faster, more profitable growth by delivering better customer experiences, and doing it at the cost that is right for their business.
Most social discussions as of late have been highly focused on listening and analyzing. That is, understanding what your customers and employees are talking about, what pleases them, what angers them, and what their suggestions are for improvement. But what is left out of these discussions is the most critical step: once you have gathered this incredibly valuable feedback and had meaningful exchanges about how to improve, what happens next? In the New Year it needs to be less about just listening to a conversation and more about participating. Elvis Presley got it right when he said, “a little less conversation, a little more action please.”
Businesses need to change the offers they make, how they respond to service requests, and which products they position in each sales situation. Companies are struggling to convert all their insight into action, and many technology vendors continue to focus on just gathering more insight – with no guidance or capabilities on how to convert that insight to action.
Mobile was in a similar situation in 2012. Many businesses have made the effort to create incredibly slick-looking apps, but many of those apps have been built in isolation. While they may look nice and have some powerful features, companies still need to figure out how they can realize the full potential of mobile and make it a core part of their business and not another costly yet disconnected channel. The goal for 2013 will be learning how to combine the power of a company’s existing data and processes, and adapt that for the mobile device.
Then, there’s cloud. For many companies and in many situations, cloud was the right option in 2012. But, there is no such thing as a universal panacea - not all companies in all situations will benefit. Companies should be able to choose what is right for them on a project-by-project basis, and should know that the cloud is there, available, reliable, secure and scalable enough to be leveraged in the right situations.
Looking ahead, every marketing offer must be fulfilled, and nearly every customer service request must be resolved to be effective – whether it involves a bill, a claim or a dispute, they must be addressed efficiently and correctly. Those that cannot do this in a consistent fashion and with confidence risk being left behind. Businesses should be highly optimistic about 2013 and the incredible new opportunities for innovation. This innovation will enable them the ability to convert insight into action and deliver the holistic customer experience that will be continuously improved. It is about listening to all the great social and traditional insight from customers, partners and employees, then combining that insight with management’s goals and taking action, implementing continuous change to drive more value for the customer and the business. It’s about mapping out the customer’s journey across all phases of the customer life cycle (marketing, sales, service), across all communication channels (social, mobile, web, branch, call center), across product silos (including the front and back office) and directly capturing that journey in your system’s execution. And doing it in a way that addresses the biggest immediate challenge, and then expanding and specializing it for each channel, product, and organization.
In 2012, social, mobile and cloud served as incredible sources for innovation. Now, it is time to take it to the next level. It is time to break down your organizational and channel silos; it’s time to stop worrying about your technology so you can focus on being a customer-centric enterprise. Both your customers and shareholders will love you for it. You have heard their voices, you have captured their insights. In 2013 it’s time for action.
Steve is a senior director of product marketing at Pega, focused on CRM solutions. He brings more than 15 years of experience marketing, selling, designing and implementing software solutions for some of the world’s largest customer focused enterprises, Including Sears, Wal-mart, CIGNA, Bank of America, and Sprint among others. Prior to joining Pega, Steve held leadership positions in professional services, marketing and sales with Cap Gemini, KANA Software and Chordiant Software. Steve earned his undergraduate degree from College of The Holy Cross in Economics & Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant. Steve can be reached on Twitter at @sdkraus01 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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